Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fire

My hometown is on fire.

Every time I get on Facebook, my news feed flashes with pictures and updates. My last piano teacher, a beautiful lady who loves music and loves Jesus, has been evacuated from her home. The Flying W ranch is burned to the ground. Over 30,000 people have been evacuated.

The brain is numb. I am thankful that my parents, my older siblings and their families, all live on the east side of Colorado Springs; they are not in any danger. Something inside me wishes to be back there, to see the pluming, spewing smoke over my beloved mountains, to draw close to the kindling Colorado which has been my home for most of my life as if somehow being there could make a difference. I resent the fact that I am safe here in Texas with nothing to fear but an over-abundance of crickets, even while I am grateful for our safety.

I pray for rain. For rain, God! You are bigger than the inferno, and a word from You would open the floods of the skies. Why doesn't it stop?


The Pilot hugged me and whispered, "Let's pray," and we did, and I felt my heart pounding rebelliously, afraid to voice the words that flamed in my mind: Why don't You stop it?


"I don't understand," I said.

"I know," he said. "But God is good. Sometimes we have to trust."

Trusting is easy when life is smooth and placid. It is harder when I feel stretched, pulled taught, spread thin, frantically trying to stop up the holes in the boat that's leaking in the churning rapids. A move in four weeks for which we still have no orders, a dreaded twenty-page paper due for my least-favorite class, and the wildfires are spreading in the city that I love. Not to mention the crickets.


Really, God?


He says back to me, "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." (1st Peter 4:12).

But I want to be surprised. I want to view all of this as very strange, as abnormal, as not part of the plan. I want to believe that I am entitled to a smooth, easy, fun, worry-free life. I want to believe that I am owed that.

He won't let me. "But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed."


It's what Ann Voskamp told me in One Thousand Gifts, it's what Beth Moore is telling me in her study of James that the other pilots' wives and I are going through, it's the Creator Himself who's telling me: "But- rejoice."


That isn't exactly the word that comes to mind when I look at the burning pictures.

Rejoice.

Find joy.

Give thanks.

He says will reveal His glory through all this. I don't know how. I want Him to reveal His glory by bringing a thunderous rainstorm to Colorado the like of which no one has ever seen, to quench the fires and save the mountains and the city from further destruction. I want Him to reveal His glory by making the orders magically appear on Nate's desk tomorrow morning. I want Him to reveal His glory by giving me a shot of divine inspiration for this paper so that it isn't difficult to write. I have very specific ideas in my head of how God should reveal His glory.

But then... so did everyone else, who couldn't believe that the Savior could come born into poverty and misery. So did Peter, who couldn't believe that Jesus could possibly be glorified through His crucifixion. All throughout history, God has been revealing His glory through the most unexpected things.

I don't understand.


I found a quote by Elisabeth Elliot which says: "God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to."

Even my vastest conjectures cannot put a boundary around what God is up to. He doesn't ask me to understand– only to trust.

On my bathroom mirror, months ago, I taped an index card on which I'd written a quote from Ann Voskamp: God is always good, and I am always loved.

"God is good," my husband said quietly to me.

His words are the grace that comes in and through the fire.  And God whispers, "Listen."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Daddy Thoughts

Thanks to you, I know more about Abbot and Costello and the Marx Brothers than anyone else my age whom I've ever met. 

When my husband starts singing a random line of a song he heard years ago and never forgot, I laugh. I think of you. And I tell him, "You're just like my dad!"

I miss hearing you play the Beatles and Polka Varieties and "Oh How He Loves You And Me" on the piano in the evenings. Last night the Pilot was playing his guitar, and I asked him if he knew "Blackbird" and he didn't, never even heard it before, and not only was I flabbergasted that I knew a song he didn't, I thought way back years and years to you playing Blackbird on your guitar. You made music part of the language that your children still speak.  

After that first breakup I will never forget how you hugged me and prayed for me and for my heart and for my future husband. 

One of the reasons I realized I wanted to marry the Pilot was because he is passionate about what he does, and I grew up with a father who chose to do something he believed in and was passionate about even if it meant sometimes things were tight. 
 
One of my favorite pictures from the wedding is you walking me down the aisle and us grinning at each other.  

I was looking at Father's Day cards and I picked up one that said something about the countless hours and thousands of dollars a child costs and all the father gets is a Father's Day card, and I thought wryly that whoever wrote the card had missed the whole point. Because a father is someone who never looks at his kids and sees time and money spent. He looks at them and sees his kids whom he loves in a way that cannot be measured. In a time when good fathers seem to be an endangered species, I hear the stories and read the articles and the statistics and I thank God that I have you as my daddy.

So here's to many more years of Beatles tunes and musicals and you beating all of us kids at Finish Lines because you never forget a movie title or a song lyric. Here's to hundreds more grins and giggles and jokes. Thank you for the love you have always shown me and for the dad you've always been to me.

Happy Father's Day!


Friday, June 15, 2012

More Wichita Falls Discoveries

I was out with my friend Joy today, and we discussed the move to Phoenix, a thing which patiently sits like a billboard in the distance, waiting for me to get close enough to pay attention to it. Joy's husband and the Pilot are in the same class, both now and in Phoenix, and I am grateful for the feeling of camaraderie this brings. It is simply not real to me that I only have six weeks left here. Knowing it is like knowing facts about a country I've never been to: interesting enough, in its own way, but it has precious little to do with me. I wonder if even when we do move it will feel quite real.

Meantime, Joy introduced me to an antique flea market downtown that I have passed every time I go to the library, and never gone in. We were tea-cup hunting, specifically, for the tea-party that Angela and I are giving next week (a tea-cup white elephant was her idea and a charming one). Tea-cup hunting is much more enjoyable than hunting for the right brand of spinach, or buying your husband more khaki socks. If  I was thirty years older, and lived in a big house with lots of shelf space, I would collect tea-cups, all different kinds, and then I'd invite little girls over to have real tea parties with real teacups instead of the plastic ones that most little girls have to play with, and it wouldn't matter if any of them got broken because I would have so many. As it is, I live in a two bedroom apartment with very limited shelf space, so that even the beautiful tea-set that my friend Blythe gave me has to live on the kitchen counter (but at least I can look at it every day) and I don't know any little girls here. But obviously that doesn't stop me, or Angela, or Joy, from having tea-parties. There are some things girls never grow out of.

At the antique flea-market (The Corner Emporium it is called: Emporium is an important word that ought to be written with a curly font) I also found the priceless piece of literature you can see in the picture. Honestly, who wouldn't pay fifty cents to learn how to have model beauty, poise, and personality? John Robert Powers, the inimitable Wikipedia informs me, founded a prestigious modeling agency in 1923. Apparently he must also have been a quite a genius, since the table of contents promises to teach me "How to Become More Beautiful Every Year" and "How Your Hair Can Create the Illusion of Beauty" (I want to know why it has to be an illusion) and most importantly "How to Work the Miracle of Transforming Yourself." I want to know why I need to transform myself, since I'm pretty happy with how God made me, but if I find anything life-changing I'll let you know.



(I bought the ring-cup because it is labelled. I shall put it in the bathroom. I already have a little porcelain box where I put my rings when I'm in the kitchen, but I had to buy this one because it actually said what it's for, and I adore that in domestic articles. In a world where people rarely say what they mean, it's very comforting when sometimes inanimate objects say what they do.)

After antique-ing, Joy and I went next door to the 8th Street Coffee Shop, which, we learned, has only been open for three months, and which was most definitely not a chain. If there is one thing that Wichita Falls has a deplorable lack of, it's shops and restaurants and places to drink coffee that aren't Walmart and Texas Roadhouse and Starbucks. (Not that I have anything against Starbucks.) We pounced on the 8th Street Coffee Shop as if it were a hundred dollar bill lying in the street. The drinks were much as one might expect (though I saw something about a peanut-butter cup smoothie which will probably have to be further investigated) but the atmosphere was comfortable and intimate with a glorious riot of mismatching chairs and retro booths. I've already decided to go back to do homework, probably twice a week, until we leave–

–which apparently is in 41 days, which is preposterous because didn't I just get here?

Everyone who knows me well knows that my feelings for Wichita Falls are not exactly ones of fond attachment. It was a bit of a wrench to leave the fresh breezes galloping down from the mountains in Colorado last week and come back to 96 degrees and 70 percent humidity of the air slithering greasily up from Mexico. Yet somehow this town has miraculously transformed into home (I defy John Robert Powers to equal that transformation) and I can't quite believe that I'm leaving it soon.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Marriage Thoughts III: Going Home

Before the Pilot and I were married, I just assumed that adjusting to a new life in Wichita Falls would be rather difficult. And when I found it easier than I expected, I assumed that going back to visit Colorado Springs would feel strange, like arriving on stage after the play is over and everyone has gone home.

The first three months of being married, I shied nervously away from referring to Colorado Springs as "home". Other girls I'd met would speak of going "home" to visit their families, and I would mentally hold up my little SHUN sign to keep myself from somehow catching the same mentality. Home is wherever the Pilot is, I told myself sternly. With him and nowhere else!

Then not too long ago, someone told me that being in the Air Force means you will have multiple homes. Thinking of where you grew up as "home" is not somehow disloyal to where you are now: it simply admits that our hearts are capable of loving old homes and new ones. I liked that.

This is the third time I've been back to Colorado since getting married, and I find that none of my fears of it being strange have any reality. The slip back into the old home is effortless; I know the rhythms of the current of life here, and being married doesn't change the ability to swim with it. There is only one thing that is changed, and that is cherishing the time more, because I know it's limited.

So now I don't mind it when new friends ask when I'm going home to visit my family, or when old friends say "welcome home"! I am home here, and next week I'll also go home, home to the man who makes it home, wherever we happen to be.